Confidence is one of those things in life where “the rich keep getting richer, whilst the poor keep getting poorer.”
It seems “confident people” grow in confidence, whilst those who lack it grow more timid by the day.
Confidence is necessary to excel in life, as it enables you to go for and do more than others. The result is that the confident person also achieves more. Confidence gives you an edge and advantage in literally all aspects of life; from dating and sports, all the way down to business.
Confidence seems to be the single most valuable asset one can have.
“Fortune favors the bold.” - Latin Proverb
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” - Woody Allen
In the same vein, lack of confidence can cost you a lot if you don’t learn how to gain or work around it. Because, even those who are confident, are not always confident about everything, nor are they confident every time or everywhere. Confidence is not a trait, nor is it inherited.
The dilemma that comes with confidence isn’t just that it is “mysterious” to those who have it, but that it is equally, “mysterious” to most of those who do not. Some think it is inborn, others think it is mastered over the years. Which do you think is true?
In this article we attempt to demystify confidence so you can appear to be more self-assured even if you’re not – even if it feels like you have butterflies in your belly, or your legs feel like jelly.
Lack of confidence stems from fear of the unknown.
There is a tiny portion of our brains that has been handed over to us by our earliest ancestors. This part of our brain is responsible for making us feel fear, anxiety, and all other forms of negativity – it is oftentimes called the ”lizard brain” (since it has reptilian origins, according to evolution).
Here is the thing, having this fear-triggering part in our brains isn’t bad – because it has helped us avoid playing with snakes, or catwalking when we encounter tigers, or jumping off cliffs to pick berries, or doing some other dangerous things.
The problem, however, is that there aren’t many snakes and tigers around these days (as civilization has taken over).
This is to say, the battle to gain confidence is actually a battle to quiet that region of your brain that is causing you to panic – thinking something is going to go horribly wrong, and that you are going to lose your job, reputation, and your life.
You need to calm down.
Seriously, that’s one of the best things you can do. It’s all about controlling your emotional response and caging your “lizard brain,” and thus, appear more confident.
And to do this, you simply have to:
1. Prepare: The fear is legit if you haven’t prepared for a presentation, discussion, or some other thing. To battle this, you must prepare beforehand. You must train, read, practice, and repeat as often as possible.
And although this may not get rid of the fear, it would make the fear “irrational”, which you can then deal with by changing your mindset.
2. Change Your Mindset: The truth is that seldom do people want someone else to make a mess of themselves in public. When people stop, get seated, or gather around to listen to you, they often wish that you present or say something worth their time and attention.
If you have prepared beforehand, it only means that you are the very person they are eager and excited to pay attention to. With this in mind, you can get rid of the thought that people want to see you make a fool of yourself.
3. Take The Stance: Your first practical hack (on gaining instant confidence) is to take the stance of a confident person. The body and mind are intertwined. Your feelings are linked to your facial expression, posture, and general demeanor.
This means you can trick your mind into feeling confident by standing like you already are. And this works like magic. Stand upright, raise your head, face your audience, and cover as much space as your body can (don’t try to hide your body).
4. Control Your Eyes: As much as possible, establish and hold eye contact with the person you are talking to. This doesn’t mean you have to stare them down, but that you shouldn’t be avoiding looking at them in the eye.
When talking, try holding eye contact for 2 to 3 seconds before breaking it. This sends the impression that you are confident – even if you are not.
Try this read next! How to Communicate With Anyone You Meet
5. Manage Silence: Don’t be scared of silence. If there is nothing to say, keep silent and relish the moment. You are not obligated to say something when there is nothing left to say.
More words don’t mean you are smarter or more confident…it might actually signal the reverse.
6. Control Your Movement: Don’t move briskly.
Try to take longer and intentional steps. When standing still, ensure you remain still – don’t move your body side to side, stay calm.
7. Listen More: Though counterintuitive, listening attentively to what others have to say (and then responding appropriately) makes you appear more confident.
Remember, it is not about the number of words, but the quality.
8. Control Your Voice: Reduce the tone of your voice. Don’t “rap” or stretch out your words, rather maintain a steady and gentle tempo.
This helps you come up with more impeccable words, with coherent ideas.
9. Use Humor: As funny as it sounds, it works. To laugh over something implies that you are… well, above it.
Making (funny) jokes about a topic also helps you connect with your happy and cheerful audience.
10. Simplify: Don’t try to be impressive. Use simple language. Explain with fewer words, and be clear, yet not overly detailed so you don’t bore people to sleep.
Keep the flow!
11. Control Your Limbs: Use gestures to explain your ideas better, and reach out for the shoulder or arms of the person(s) you’re talking with to connect better.
This act of touching also helps reduce the fear and anxiety and helps you connect with them on a deeper level.
12. Own Your Mistakes: Don’t fear mistakes. Everyone makes them. In fact, admitting mistakes shows that you are confident.
So, when you make a mistake don’t think it is the end of the world – don’t let it phase you – simply own up to it, and move on.
13. Relax: When you feel tense, practice deep breathing (i.e. diaphragmatic breathing), and give yourself pep talks.
Tell yourself, “It is going to be fine”. Breathe.
14. Smile: There is this weird concept known as “mirroring”. Which simply means people would reflect back at you what you project towards them. That is to say, if someone smiles at you, you would be inclined to smile right back at them, and when someone frowns at you, you would do likewise.
You can use this to your advantage. Remember what we said about the lizard brain? It is activated by fear. But by intentionally projecting warmer feelings into your audience (by smiling), you condition them to reflect warmer feelings towards you, thereby expelling the fear and anxiety.
Smiling tricks your mind (and those of the listeners) into believing that you are familiar and friendly, and there is no more need to panic. The lizard brain is caged.
15. Reminisce: This is actually a bonus tip. After caging the lizard brain and successfully talking to that person, making the big move, or achieving that goal, ensure to bore that experience into your memory.
This is because recalling your past success will help boost your confidence and set you up for more success in the future. That is how confident people become more confident – they come to believe in themselves.
PREVIOUS POSTIf You Struggle With Social Anxiety, This Is For You
NEXT POSTWhat Do You Really Want Out of Life?
August 8, 2022
August 6, 2022